Quiet Time Coaching: Episode 90. “How to handle praise and criticism”

How do we handle the twin pressures of praise and criticism? What is the healthy spiritual response? What inspiration can we derive from Jesus and the scriptures?

We delve into my teenage memories and an old appraisal……

“Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.” (John 6:15 NIV11)

More Scriptures referred to in this episode: Luke 4.1-11; John 2.25; Proverbs 27.6; Jeremiah 31.3; John 13.35; Revelation 3.9.

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community. 

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

Quiet Time Coaching: Episode 89. “Praying for what you don’t really want”

We continue a new series today based on the book, “Unloading the Overload: Stress management for Christians” by Chris Powell and Graham Barker. 

Today’s episode is not based on material in the book, but inspired by its theme.  Let’s explore the issue of praying for things we don’t really want. What is the place for prayer in this challenge?

Jesus spent time praying for God’s will to be done in his life, even when it was tough to do so. We see him doing so in Gethsemane. If he wrestled in praying for the strength to do the will of his Father, then so might we. Can we learn from his example?

I share my own realisation of ceasing to pray about assertiveness and diligence and why this is the case – that I don’t really want to grow in them! At least, not in my flesh. What part does vision play in this dynamic? Are you praying for things you don’t really want? If so, or not, how do you resolve the matter?

Scriptures referred to in this episode: Matthew 26.36ff; Hebrews 5.7; Galatians 5.22-23.

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community. 

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

Quiet Time Coaching: Episode 88. “Time: energy, faith and the character of Christ”

We continue a new series today based on the book, “Unloading the Overload: Stress management for Christians” by Chris Powell and Graham Barker. 

Today’s episode is not based on material in the book, but inspired by its theme.  Let’s explore the issue of time and the need for energy, faith and the character of Christ in making the best use of the time God has given us. What is the place for prayer in this challenge?

Jesus seemed to have enough time for the purposes of God in his life. His energy, faith and character were adequate to the tasks laid before him. Can we learn from his example?

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community. 

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

The Sunday Sample 67: “Faith Journey”, Worship Team Devotional on Acts 9

  • ““Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.” (Acts 9:5 NIV11)
  • “get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”    The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground,” (Acts 9:6–8 NIV11)
  • “In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”” (Acts 9:12 NIV11)
  • “He got up and was baptised,” (Acts 9:18 NIV11)
  • Saul was on a faith journey
  • His faith grew as he took action on what God revealed
  • It it led him to enjoying his relationship with God
  • He finally understood his purpose and mission

Part of our role as those leading worship is helping people who come today to take their next step of faith in their faith journey. We are hoping they will decide to follow God’s prompting. How exciting to think that as we speak, pray, sing and maybe somebody here who is hearing God’s voice, being stirred in the spirit and deciding to step out in faith!

Let’s pray……

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” (Psalms 100:2 NIV11)

God bless, Malcolm

PS: If you would like some coaching in spiritual disciplines, look me up on coach.me.

PPS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

“The Road to Joy”, Acts 8.26-40

Malcolm Cox, Watford Church of Christ

A multi-cultural evangelistic encounter

“Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means “queen of the Ethiopians”). This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet. The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.” Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked. “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.  This is the passage of Scripture the eunuch was reading: 

“He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth. In his humiliation he was deprived of justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth.” 

The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus. As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptised?” And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptised him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing. Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea.” (Acts 8:26–40 NIV11)

  • Philip
  • Question: “Why might the voice in Phillip’s head be telling him this was a stupid idea?”
  • Question: “What’s impressive about the heart and actions of Philip?”
  • Ethiopian
  • Question: “Why might the voice in the Ethiopian’s head be telling him this was a stupid idea?”
  • Question: “What’s impressive about the heart and actions of the Ethiopian?”
  • Spirit
  • Question: “What do we learn about the Spirit’s priorities?”

Suggestions

  1. Pray over how you can be more in tune with the Spirit’s priorities. We desire as a church to be “a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:22). What could that look like for you this coming week?
  2. If you are an ‘Ethiopian’ seeking the joy of the good news about Jesus, what can you do this week to find out more about this message?
  3. If you are a ‘Philip’, which of his attitudes and/or actions inspire you the most? Pray over how to express those this week.

Additional notes and scriptures for further study

  • Look up parallels between this passage and the conversation between Jesus and the woman at the well in John 4.
  • Philip had a powerful prophetic family, Acts 21:9.
  • We are seeing here Luke describing the expansion of the spread of the gospel from Jerusalem to Judea, Samaria and, soon, the rest of the world (i.e. Gentiles). Act 1:8; Acts 8:4, 5; 10/11.
  • Eunuch: Deut. 23:1, Isaiah 56:3–8.
  • See parallels between this passage and Jesus explaining the Scriptures on the road to Emmaus, Luke 24:13-35. See also the parallel sudden disappearance (and also, 1 Kings 18:12; 2 Kings 2:16; Ezek. 3:14)!

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community. 

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

God bless, Malcolm

PS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

“How to thrive spiritually”

On a recent tour of  Israel, I spent some good time with my old friend Douglas Jacoby.  We discussed the Psalms and he mentioned the book he’s written on them called “Thrive!”. I bought a copy and started reading it straight away. It’s been blessing my spiritual life and I thought I’d bring you a brief description and review of the book for today’s quiet time coaching episode.

Please let me know what you think of Psalms, books on the Psalms, and Douglas’s book if you’ve read it.

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.
Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.
If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.
Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.
God bless, Malcolm
PS: If you would like some coaching in spiritual disciplines, look me up here.
PPS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

“Amazed!”, Acts 8.9-25

“What amazes you?”

  • The possibility of the amazing is what keeps us looking forward
  • The possibility of the amazing is what keeps us optimistic
  • The possibility of the amazing is what keeps us faithful
  • People who lose the possibility of the amazing lose the life for which they were designed

What helps and what gets in the way?
Some ideas from this passage…..Acts 8:9–25

Here’s the Acts8.9-25 Handout

Question: What is amazing in this passage?

1. Philip’s courage
2. John’s change, Luke 9:51–56
3.Stephen’s changes
4. Apostles’ calmness and imperturbability

Question: What stops us being amazed & amazing others about God?

  • When all said and done, it is not a what, but a who is amazing.
  • And one is more amazing that all others.
  • And he has inspired more amazing things than anyone who has ever lived.
  • Jesus is the most amazing person who ever lived

“The people were amazed at his teaching, … and many who heard him were amazed. “Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? People were overwhelmed with amazement. “He has done everything well,” they said. “He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.” The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?” The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.” (Mark 1:22; 6:2; 7:37; 10:26; 11:18 NIV11)

How do we get the strength/courage? Matt 28.20
From presence and spirit of Jesus.

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.

Do you have a question about the Bible or the Christian faith? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions.

Thanks again for watching. Have a super day.

God bless,

Malcolm

“The Kingdom” Class 2

“The kingdom of heaven is like….” (Matt 13.24; 31, 33, 44, 45, 45, 47, 18.23; 20.1; 22.2)

“The community or people ruled by God and with whom he dwells, to some extent reality now but to be fully consummated in the future”

Kingdom Class 2 Handout

The Kingdom Class 2 Slides

1. “Your kingdom come”

  1. Present with Jesus
    1. “..if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” (Matthew 12:28 NIV11)
    2. “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” (Luke 6:20)
    3. “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.” (Matthew 21:31 NIV11)
    4. Date:
  2. Coming soon
    1. “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” (Matthew 16:28 NIV11)
    2. ‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come.” (Luke 11:2 NIV11)
    3. Date:
  3. Coming in the future
    1. ““Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of  the world.” (Matthew 25:34)
    2. “There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out.” (Luke 13:28)
    3. Date:

2. The character of the kingdom

  • Question: “What does this parable tell you about the character of the kingdom? It’s values, it’s nature, it’s priorities?”
        • Parables: Matthew 13:24–30; 31–32; 33; 44; 45–46; 47–50; 18:23–35; 22:1–14; 24:51–25:13; 14–30; :31–46; Luke 18:15–17

Response

Thank you for watching this video. You can find more episodes on the YouTube site.

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.

Do you have a question about the Bible or the Christian faith? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send us your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org

Thanks again for watching. Have a super day.

God bless,

Malcolm

“The connection between the kingdom, peace and joy”

What is the connection between the kingdom of the heavens, peace and joy?

I’m teaching a three-part series on the kingdom for the Thames Valley churches of Christ.  There’s no way I will do it justice, but I do hope to make it more relevant to myself and the congregation.  One of the kingdom verses which has given me the most pause to think and pray is Romans 14:17-18.

Here is Tom Wright’s translation:

“God’s kingdom, you see, isn’t about food and drink, but about justice, peace, and joy in the holy spirit. Anyone who serves the Messiah like this pleases God and deserves respect from other people.” (Romans 14:17–18)

Compare that translation with the NIV:

“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.” (Romans 14:17–18 NIV11)

Finally, take a look at this translation by Dallas Willard:

“The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking [whether you do it in one way or in another] but is inner rightness and peace and joy sustained by the Holy Spirit. For those serving Christ in this way are well-pleasing to God and approved by men.”

The key phrase here for me, is “inner rightness”.  Far be it from me to criticise the NIV or Tom Wright, and I’m sure the translations are correct, but the Willard version emphasises the personal connection with Jesus. It is this personal connection which ensures our ability to experience the peace and joy of the Messiah.  It is he who gives us peace (John 14:27) and joy (John 15:11).  Why are we confident of this personal connection? Because Jesus promised, “I will be with you” Matthew 28:20.  Since we have the spirit of Christ, we can enjoy the fruits of that spirit (Rom 8.9; Gal 5.22).

As Willard says, “..the kingdom of the heavens, from the practical point of view in which we all must live, is simply our experience of Jesus’s continual interaction with us in history and throughout the days, hours, and moments of our earthly existence.” (The Divine Conspiracy)

Would you like more joy and peace?  Practice becoming more aware of the presence of Jesus. That is why we pray, and engage with spiritual disciplines. Not to make us “better”, but to make us more aware and thus more connected with the source of peace and joy. And the benefit? Why do we need to question the benefits of more peace and joy! But, we should also be aware that the fuller our experience of the peace and joy of the spirit, the more it will set us apart in this world as people who have something others need. Those with spiritual hunger will sit up and take notice.

The kingdom has many facets. But perhaps, practically, the most fundamental is the opportunity to avail ourselves of a supernatural peace and joy for which we were always designed.

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website.

Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.

God bless, Malcolm

PS: If you would like some coaching in spiritual disciplines, look me up here.
PPS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool“, a devotional look at the Gospel of John

“How to have a harvest of joy”, Acts 8.1-8

“How to have a harvest of joy”

“On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison. Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.

Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralysed or lame were healed. So there was great joy in that city.” (Acts 8:1–8 NIV11)

“God places the best things in life on the other side of terror”

Question: What examples of courage do you see in this passage?

  • Joy’s significance
    • “But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” (Luke 2:10 NIV1)
    • “So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples.” (Matthew 28:8 NIV11)
  • God is joyful; Jesus is full of joy; the Holy Spirit provides joy…
    • “At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.” (Luke 10:21 NIV11)
    • “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,” (Romans 14:17 NIV11)
    • “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,” (Galatians 5:22 NIV11)
    • “You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.” (1 Thess 1:6)
    • Therefore makes sense to pursue joy. How?

Questions

  • Where does courage comes from? Matthew 28.20.
  • What would living faithfully courageously look like in your life?
  • Where do you need more joy?

Three steps to faith-fuelled courage and joyful living:

  • Jesus
  • Open
  • Yes
  • People filled with joy attract others
  • A church filled with joy attracts others

“God places the best things in life on the other side of terror”

Here’s the PDF of the handout: Acts8.1-8 Handout TV

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.
Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.
If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://www.malcolmcox.org.
Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review.
God bless, Malcolm
PS: If you would like some coaching in spiritual disciplines, look me up here.
PPS: You might also be interested in my book: “An elephant’s swimming pool”, a devotional look at the Gospel of John